Half a King: Or When life gives you lemons...it might continue giving you lemons so open a fruit cart.

Half a King - Joe Abercrombie

First and foremost my thanks to Goodreads (and by extension Random House) for providing me with a copy of Half a King through First Reads. I was very excited to win this book as I've been meaning to read Abercrombie for years - there has been quite a bit of praise thrown in his direction and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. This book did not disappoint.

 

In the past when people have described Abercrombie they've used words like Gritty, Dark, and Violent, so I was curious how his foray into teen lit would read. As it turns out...gritty, dark, and more violent than I would have expected considering the age bracket (though still fine for most teens). It was refreshing to read a book formed from the parts of the fantasy genre I enjoy, namely the adventure and the quest/heroic journey type plot, while skipping some of the parts I dislike, such as overly complex rambling world-building and cheesy trope characters. I was impressed with Abercrombie's ability to shape characters and settings in just a few lines. While we didn't spend much time with some of the side characters they all felt three dimensional, as did the main characters. The world itself also felt lived in and well crafted.

 

What struck me the most, however, was that even though I didn't always like the main character, nor agree with him, I did ache for him when he suffered, whether it be physically or emotionally. His struggles felt authentic, and the lack of cut and dry solutions made me feel as trapped and invested as he did while I read. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say this is a book where things continually go from bad to worse, and it manages to make that a delight rather than a drag. All in all I'm keen to try Abercrombie again, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. I'm excited to see where this goes, while at the same time thankful this book felt contained enough it could easily have been a stand-alone novel.